Scott Durbin, a performer and coordinator of the Music Business Program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, offers advice for students and musicians in the digital age.
Herman Fuselier

As the frontwoman of an indie rock band and a sound engineer, Rubee Stew sees firsthand how bills can rack up when recording and distributing music.

Her Shreveport-based hard rock band Trepid recently released an E.P. “In Henry We Trust” and is recording a full-length album. 

A recording budget for a for a local, independent band like Trepid may begin on the low end at $1,500, Stew said.

Digital distribution on sites like iTunes can cut expenses, but the sale of digital versions of singles and albums isn’t profitable for independent bands, she said. 

“Digital is king and more than that, streaming is king,” Stew said. “Your investment into recording your music is more than likely going to be a loss, so you might as well profit from it in other ways than strictly monetary,” she said. 

The internet instantly exposes musicians to a global audience. 

Streaming services such as Amazon, Spotify and YouTube have become listeners’ top choice for consuming music, however, they return little to musicians. Streams are often free for listeners willing to put up with occasional ads.

Yet the services, which make money off the ads and subscriptions, pay musicians a fraction of a penny for each stream of a song. According to The Trichordist, an artist rights advocacy blog, that payout rate is dropping as streaming numbers grow.

Eric Adcock, of Roddie Romero and the Hub City All Stars, calls the payout to musicians “embarrassingly shameful.” The south Louisiana band’s 2016 CD “Gulfstream” was nominated for two Grammys and received more than 100,000 spins on Spotify. Based on Spotify’s pay…